MRI Anxiety

I’m mildly claustrophobic, but MRI’s have just never bothered me. Same with my sister, who just had her first MRI at age 66.

Good luck!

It bothers some but the noise doesn’t affect me at all. It’s mildly annoying. It’s getting in the coffin I don’t like. Unfortunately I have to get on the phone tomorrow and schedule one for an upcoming spinal surgery.

For those of you that had a relaxant like Valium, were you required to have someone to drive you home after the scan?

They asked if I had someone to drive me. I said I’d walked over (without mentioning it was over a mile), and they said OK.

They told me I will not be allowed to drive afterwards. I told them I will be taking public transportation, so that’s not an issue.

Last few times I had some kind of sedation procedure, they said I had to have a driver.

The driver had to sit in the waiting room, or at least be someplace nearby, the whole time.

No, they would not let me take the bus.

Not, they would not let me call a taxi.

I can only assume the effects of IV sedation (vs. the an oral sedative they hadn’t provided) and the potential liability issues are the difference.

IV sedation definitely leaves one goofed up for the rest of the day at least.

I’m extremely claustrophobic. Last time I had an MRI I couldn’t have a sedative because of what the MRI was about. I asked for advice, and this is what helped to make me get through it:

Check with the technicians that, if I ask, they really will stop and pull me out. That’s extremely sub-optimal because it would probably mean going through the whole thing again, but it helped knowing it was an option - and I needed the reassurance on the day, rather than knowing they probably wouldn’t just leave me in there

Asking them to let me know how much time was left at regular intervals. They didn’t actually do this often enough, and next time I’ll stress how important this is for me

Looking up a new set of things to memorise and go over again in my head. I’ve done this before for painful or just very boring events. Things like US states in alphabetical order or in order of size, US state capitals, scattergories - a fruit or veg, or country or famous person, etc, beginning with every letter of the alphabet, the periodic table, etc. It helps distract you and also gives you some sense that an amount of time has passed, and you are on your way to getting out

Taking a spare set of clothes because the panic meant I was drenched in sweat.

Can’t remember if I was allowed music or not, but it wouldn’t really have made much of a difference - it’s not the noises that are an issue for me. If anything they were reassuring, because they meant something was happening, and gave me a way to orientate myself. The brief bits of silence, trapped in a tube, were worse.

I really like this suggestion. I have absolutely no idea how long this will take, but google suggests 30-40 minutes. A fun evening (appointment’s at 5:15) for me.

Be sure you don’t leave your Brain on the Train.

I survived!

Well, of course, because getting an MRI scan is not dangerous.

The tech wanted me to try going without the benzo (Midazolam as a nasal spray), so I ended up going without.

The scan was 25 minutes, and he came in half way to put in the contrast. I ask him to give me updates every 5 minutes, so I got a check at 3 minutes, another at 6, then the contrast and then a check at 18 minutes.

The only panicky part was at the end when the machine was quiet, but he didn’t come in for a while. I almost pressed the panic button, but resisted.

Thinking about this thread and all the people who shared their helpful hints really help keep me calm.

Only horrid thing was the music. They use radio (Radio Pilatus and Sunshine Radio), which are the main stations in this area. They are not top 40. They are “play whatever may have been somewhat popular in the last 60 years”. And lots of traffic and news, especially during the evening rush hour. Ick.

Wasn’t expecting to actually feel some of the sounds in my bones. It was a 3T Siemens machine.

The technician did ask me how long until I see the doctor. He was amazed that I have to wait 3 weeks. Doctor’s on vacation next week anyway.

I’m SO glad you got through it OK! Why did the tech want you to do the MRI without benzos? That seems so odd to me. Was there some technical reason why sedation would have been problematic? I’m guessing there must have been; otherwise he would have been massively wrong to urge doing without.

Thanks for the update. I’ve been wondering about the details. And yay for being done! If you care to share what the doc says at the appointment, I’d love to know what you find out.

Kudos for your courage!

They wouldn’t know since I was prescribed by my primary and took it before I got there. But I did have a ride.

The last couple of times I have had a MRI I think I could have made it through without help. The machines seem to be a bit bigger with a little more room which helps. I’m pretty broad across the shoulders and a few machines I’ve been in I touched on both sides. That was bad. Also I’ve had my head immobilized and my shoulder put in a cage which made it very tight. That’s pretty bad.

He said it would basically ruin the next day because it would take that long to get the stuff out of my system. The general attitude here is to avoid taking drugs (but natural remedies are absolutely fine) as much as possible.

Less than 24 hours before I get my results. Really glad I was able to move up my appointment, so I don’t have to wait another week.

Taking one dose of an anti-anxiety medicine like Xanax won’t ruin your next day. You might be a little loopy for an hour or two. Real sedation would require an anesthesiologist. Even with that you won’t feel any affects after unless then put you down deep. I recently had to be sedated when they were shoving needles in my spine but that was twilight not deep sleep. I felt no affects soon after I woke up.

As someone mentioned upthread the danger with medicines like Xanax are that they are addictive. Since I take one dose each time I get a MRI, which will be at most twice a year, I’m in no danger of getting addicted.

The first MRI I had (for my carotids) was in a machine that had a very small bore. It was and inch or so from my nose. I didn’t panic then, but that made me a lot more anxious than I thought I would be.

Two weeks ago, I had another MRI for my pelvis (SI joint) in a “wide-bore” machine. It was a HUGE difference. I felt like I could stay in that machine all day if I had to. The bore was roomy, bright and there was a breeze blowing through the bore.

People vary. I’ve lost more than a day each time I’ve been sedated. (for upper endoscopies.) The first time I had midazolam and fentanyl. I felt like shit when I got home, and ended up sleeping most of the day. I tried playing a video game with my son in the evening, and couldn’t. (“mom, what’s the matter with you?”) I didn’t have the reflexes to manage it. Then I couldn’t sleep that night, and so I felt like crap the next, day, too, because I had lost a full night of sleep.

The the next time they talked me into trying propofol. That was much worse. I woke up with an unshakable feeling that I’d be physically assaulted and nearly died. The procedure was in the morning and I cried all that afternoon. Like, literally, I tried watching some dumb movie on Netflix but was interrupted by breaking into tears. I had PTSD and depression for about 2 weeks after that procedure.

I also had a sore jaw for a few days, which as best as I can tell was due to my mouth being propped open for the full time I was sedated (it took me a while to wake up) and over-stressing the jaw muscles.

There’s absolutely no way I’d submit to sedation for an MRI. It’s tough to do an upper endoscopy without it. (I have, three times) both for the patient and for the physician, and I’m trying to find a physician who has experience doing that, as sadly, I will need another one shortly.

Anyway, yes, most people just wake up and feel fine, or maybe a little loopy – usually in a happy way. I have lots of friends who love the sedation. But there’s a risk if you haven’t done it before that you might be like me, and not like them.

Those are heavy duty drugs you took. When it comes to taking something to help you through a MRI there are much tamer choices available.

No doubt. But you made the stronger claim that “you won’t feel any affects after real sedation unless they put you down deep”. They didn’t, in my case. I had half the normal dose (for a person of my weight) of midazolam, because I expressed a desire for minimal sedation up-front. My sister felt completely fine after much the same treatment. People vary in their reactions to these things.